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Thursday 23 May 2024

Kojak Variety


2024 Charity Shop Purchases # 31 - Elvis Costello - Kojak Variety

For years I was a huge Elvis Costello fan. I have his first dozen albums from 1977's My Aim is True up to 1991's Mighty Like a Rose often buying the later ones on release. I also have a few compilations and a couple of later Charity Shop purchases. I rarely listen to any of them now

I was aware of 1995's Kojak Variety but never felt the urge to acquire it until I saw it in Oxfam in Helensburgh. As the small print in the top right hand corner of the sleeve states it is a covers compilation of Rhythm & Blues Popular Ballads

Now some Covers Compilations work and some don't. Elvis has one of each. The Country Covers album Almost Blue divides opinions but I am a big fan. Kojak Variety not so much.

I hope George is sitting down as I give you his takes on the Louvin Brothers classic Must You Throw Dirt in My Face and James Carr's Pouring Water on a Drowning Man.

You can't improve on perfection!   

Elvis Costello - Must You Throw Dirt in My Face

Elvis Costello - Pouring Water on a Drowning Man


  1. Clearly this is around the time Elvis started going off the boil, but it was still within the era when I bought his albums immediately on release. Can't say I've listened to this one in a long time though...

  2. I really looked forward to this album. When I saw Costello in the summer of '91, he played four songs (including three in a row) from this album, and there were quite a few confused faces around me. This was the best part of the show because I was not enjoying much from Mighty Like a Rose, the album he was on tour to support. Plus, I knew it was irking his fans... which the grouch in me enjoyed. Kojak Variety was shelved for four years while Rykodisc was reissuing his best work. At the time, I thought it was worth the wait. Costello has introduced me to so many great songs through his choice of covers, like Betty Everett, Charles Brown and almost every act on Almost Blue. For that, I thank him. I was living in Japan when Kojack Variety came out, and played it to death because most of my music was sitting in boxes back in America. Having said that, I don't know if I have listened to it once since 1995. There is an expanded two-disc set available of Kojack Variety. If I saw it used in a shop, I would buy it for the right price. The second disc has a few covers I have never heard him perform before.

    1. I haven't played Mighty Like a Rose for ages but from memory I quite liked it.
      I'm gong to put it on now!

    2. Listening to side 1 - much better than Kojak Variety!

    3. My misspellings of Kojak are really tough for me to overlook.

  3. I won’t argue as I find both albums mediocre. The singles The Other Side of Summer and So Like Candy are great because they sound like the Attractions. - Brian

  4. An album of covers by an artist is pretty much always a turn off and a red flag. I can cope with one or two covers but......Actually, you could get a new series out of this - Covers albums that really do stand up. Johnny Cash, Norma Waterson or the execrable Bryan Ferry perhaps